Temple Mount violence caused by radical Israelis, Erdogan tells Herzog

The "raids by fanatic groups" at Al-Aqsa in recent days and the violence spreading to Gaza were also upsetting, Erdogan told Herzog.

 TURKISH PRESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey recently condemned terrorism against Israel, despite years of support for Hamas terrorists. (photo credit: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)
TURKISH PRESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey recently condemned terrorism against Israel, despite years of support for Hamas terrorists.
(photo credit: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)

Radical Jewish groups and Israeli security forces caused the Temple Mount violence, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told President Isaac Herzog during a phone call on Tuesday evening to discuss ways to restore calm to Jerusalem's Old City.

In a tweet he wrote after the call with his Israeli counterpart, Erdogan "emphasized the necessity of not allowing provocations and threats against the status and spirituality of the Al-Aqsa Mosque during this sensitive time."

They spoke after five days of riots on the Temple Mount and in the Old City which Erdogan said were caused by  "some radical Israeli groups and security forces."

The "raids by fanatic groups" at Al-Aqsa in recent days and the violence spreading to Gaza were also upsetting, Erdogan told Herzog, adding that he was particularly saddened by Palestinians who had been injured or killed by Israeli security forces.

"The month of Ramadan should be festive, but these images, which are encountered every year because of some radicals, hurt the conscience and cause justifiable reactions in the entire Islamic world," Erdogan wrote.

 SECURITY FORCES stand guard as religious Jews visit the Temple Mount. (credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90) SECURITY FORCES stand guard as religious Jews visit the Temple Mount. (credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)

Turkey has ramped up its diplomatic involvement in attempting to quell the situation, holding calls on the matter with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan's King Abdullah and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Steps it has taken in recent months to repair its frayed relations with Israel, gave it increased leverage to discuss the situation with Israel as well.

Herzog visited Turkey last month and Erdogan took the unusual step earlier this month of calling Herzog to condemn attacks by Israeli-Arab and Palestinian terrorists in three separate Israeli cities in March that claimed 11 lives.

On Sunday, however, he spoke against police action against Palestinian rioters on Temple Mount, also known as al-Haram al-Sharif, explaining that his country would always stand with the Palestinians.

Herzog urged Erdogan not to fall prey to incitement against Israel or to false information about the situation. He "reaffirmed that contrary to false reports, the State of Israel is careful to maintain the status quo and freedom of worship, especially during this period, so that members of all religions - Jews, Muslims, and Christians - may celebrate their holidays safely," his office reported.

"We must not listen to the voices of incitement and mendacious propaganda," Herzog added.

Israel's Foreign Ministry has similarly posted a video on social media to counter false information spread about its actions on the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as al-Haram, al-Sharif. It pushed back at reporters that it was preventing Muslim worship at the site.

"Israel is committed to safeguarding freedom of religion in Jerusalem. Don’t buy into Incitement and lies disseminated by terror groups," the Foreign Ministry said. 

Herzog told Erdogan that Israeli security forces were working to facilitate "prayers every day on the Temple Mount, despite provocations and incitement on the part of various actors."

"The public is looking up to the region's leaders and expects us all to act responsibly and work for calm," Herzog told Erdogan. 

Herzog emphasized the importance of condemning violence, including the incident earlier in the week "in which Jews were attacked on their way to Passover prayers at the Western Wall."

Reuters contributed to this report.